How to recycle your holiday tree

by , 01/01/15


Dead Holiday Tree

As the holidays come to a close, the gifts have been given, the cookies have been eaten, and your holiday tree is more than likely starting to look a little crisp around the edges. It’s at this point in the holiday season that the realities of the Christmas tree dilemma start to sink in. Fortunately, there are some great ways to recycle your tree so it doesn’t just end up as landfill, and we’ve also touched upon some greener ideas for future holidays. Read on to learn more!

Christmas Tree at Curb

If you have a live-cut tree like the majority of the US population, you are probably beginning to contemplate how to dispose of it properly, which seems so sad, considering that this tree probably took at least 10 years to cultivate and grow and was cut down for a just a few weeks of holiday pleasure. If you do have a cut tree, your best option is to send your little tannenbaum to a better place by “treecycling”. These days, most communities have treecycling centers, where you can drop your trees off without hassle and know that they will go on to start a new life providing mulch, landscaping or erosion prevention.

For treecycling locations near you, look here >

Used xmas trees


Info on Holiday Trees, and Some Alternative Ideas for the Future:

According to the National Christmas Tree Association:

  • Approximately 25 million-30 million live Christmas trees are sold in the nation every year.
  • An acre of Christmas Trees produces the daily oxygen for 18 people.
  • 80 percent of artificial trees are manufactured in China, and most are made with PVC and other plastics, which do not biodegrade and which contain enough lead to legally require a warning label.

There are plenty of people out there who attest that “Real Christmas Trees” have real environmental benefits, doing all the oxygen-producing, CO2-absorbing work that any good trees do, and more of it. But this doesn’t change the fact that people chop down 15-year-old trees for the sake of a few short weeks of pleasure, then kick them to the curb, only to cause chaos with garbage collection and landfills. And the fake ones? Need we say more than: lead poisoning?

potted xmas tree, potted christmas tree, living tree

Living Trees

Our favorite option for Christmas trees is buying potted ones to replant, or “renting” trees for the holidays. If you have a living potted Christmas tree (and we applaud you if you do), you can easily plant that little guy in your yard after the festivites are over or donate it to Friends of the Urban Forest to be planted in an area lacking in greenery.

San Francisco has received a lot of attention for their Rent-a-Tree program, which provides a variety of tree species to families for the holiday season. They can be strung with popcorn and tinsel just like their disposable cousins, but come early January, the city will pick them up and plant them in a neighborhood that needs some greening. Other areas have similar programs. The Original Living Christmas Tree Company in Oregon has been providing a rental Xmas tree service for some time. It’s not the cheapest route, but it definitely represents the spirit of giving that characterizes this season.

Yule Tree-to-be, Uncommon Goods, Tree to be kit, baby xmas tree, little christmas tree, christmas tree growing kit

If you want something cheaper and smaller, try a DIY tree. The Yule Tree-To-Be Kit provides you with seeds to grow your own Noble Fir. This is a great idea for marking an important first (first Xmas together, baby’s first Xmas, etc.), and it grows in size and meaning as the years pass.

What are your ideas for greener ways of doing the tannenbaum tradition?

+ Search for a tree recycling center near you

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  1. Composting Info Updates... January 11, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    […] If you had a live Christmas tree this year, you know very well that throwing that tree out in the garbage is not the best way to dispose of it. Thankfully, there are a number of eco-friendly Christmas tree disposal methods to choose from. If you have a chipper shredder, you can use the leftovers in your compost. Many cities offer Christmas tree recycling programs. You can also check out this handy guide to safely getting rid old Tannenbaum. Handy tips abound! […]

  2. Celine January 6, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    this year i saw a cool alternative at many delis in New York – a potted Rosemary bush is the form of a small xmas tree! deliciously fragrant and can be used for the rest of the year for cooking and then again next year as an xmas tree. brilliant!

  3. Phalbe Henriksen December 29, 2006 at 7:26 pm

    Since you didn’t mention sand dunes, beaches and the ocean, am I to assume that Christmas trees are no longer used for these things, or do you just not know about it?

  4. Linda Cody December 28, 2006 at 11:44 am

    I have heard that while a living christmas tree might be a good option that it is very rare for them to survive replanting outside after the holiday. Any tips on success rate? Seems more of a wast to purchase a living potted tree only to watch it die.


  5. karline Segan December 28, 2006 at 9:57 am

    Thankyou for doing the thinking for me. Good job.

  6. Sarah December 27, 2006 at 6:53 pm

    Unfortunately, Earth 911 gives the closest tree recycling area to New York zip codes as Warminster, PA 18974. According to the city of New York, if you leave your trees on the curb between January 4-16th the dept. of sanitation will recycle them. Better yet, bring your tree your local park to be recycled and receive free mulch! McCarren park is recycling trees on January 6th and 7th.

  7. Jim December 26, 2006 at 9:06 am

    Whoaaaa! Slow down! It’s only 1 day after Christmas!!

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